Monday, 14 May 2012

Patchwork Quilt

The speaker is an elderly woman in a care home somewhere in the American Midwest. She is talking to a visitor who has admired the patchwork quilt covering her knees.
Thank you. That’s real nice of you. Yeah, I guess I am surprised. It’s been a part of my life for so long I’ve never really thought about it like that. It’s just a quilt. It’s soft, it keeps you warm; it…it…it ain’t anything special. Not like these fancy quilts people make nowadays. Goodness knows how they get ‘em all pieced and quilted so neat and fine and those fancy fabrics they use; silks and stuff. There’s only one piece of silk in this whole quilt. Course, I ain’t sure if it’s silk exactly. It’s a scrap my Grandma gave me. She said it came from the bodice of her grandma’s wedding dress. I don’t know if that’s true but it’s a pretty story. It’s that piece just there; feels soft, don’t it?
I pieced that block through a real bad snowstorm we had one winter. Lasted two whole days and knocked all the power out from here to Fort Wayne. Frank and the boys shovelled a path to the barn, dug out all the old lamps of his mother’s and that’s all the light we had for weeks. Don’t look too close – that’s why the stitching ain’t too even. Lily was just a mite then. I used to rock her off to sleep in the old cradle and then I’d sit and sew with the mantle of that old Tilly lamp hissing away like a kettle on the stove and that heavy sort of quiet you get when the snow’s deep and thick, just thinking and stitching.

That’s some of Lily’s first summer dress right there. Yeah, that pretty blue cotton with the flower sprays; came from Mason’s closing down sale in the spring of ’49. I bought a bunch of stuff that day. We’d not been married long and money was real tight but I knew it’d all come in at some point.

That was from Mason’s too. I had a sun dress in that green with the flowers and cherries. It was so pretty and comfortable. Wore it for years and then when I put on weight I cut it down to make pinafores for Lily and Sylvia. That was from a shirt I made for Frank one fall. Remember I just had enough to make one for Kit too; brushed plaid cotton. I had such a bother to match the pattern – I reckon there was more cussing in those two shirts than in anything else I ever made – but they came out a treat.


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